Miami caddie amuses me

In 1952, Harry Weetman and I took advantage of an all-expenses-paid trip to Miami to partner each other in an International 4-Ball Championship. But after six holes of our first practice round, Harry’s back went and he flung the club down. I carried on with our two American partners while he walked back to the club to see the doctor.

When I got back to the clubhouse, Harry was stripped in the changing room and the doctor was spraying some freezing substance on his back. It was clearly very painful but the doctor said it had to be done. He asked me to do it that evening at the hotel and he showed me how.

That night in Harry’s room he stood up against a wall stripped to the waist. I gave it one squirt and Harry nearly hit me. I tried to give it a bit more but Harry was not having it.

We had a good sleep and went to the club the next morning for another practice round. Harry had one shot with a 4 iron off the tee but the club flew out of his hands and he said it was not going to be any good. He had to fly back without hitting a shot in the tournament.

The organisers gave me Max Evans as a partner. He was tall and thin and could hit the ball a long way but was very inaccurate and I did not rate our chances.

The best thing about the tournament was my caddy, Sam. He was a tall, 18-stone (252lb) negro who called me “Massa Max” and picked up my big bag as if it was a feather.

When we got on the first tee, he noticed that I had two drivers in my bag, one of which had a big black head to it. He picked out the black one.

“No Sam, we’re not going to use that one, we’ll use this one.” And off we went.

On every tee after that he asked: “Why ain’t you takin’ this big black baby?” Every time I said no, I wanted to take the other one.

When we got to the 4th tee, I had had enough. “Look, we’re leaving that black one in the bag for good measure.”

This phrase seem to tickle him. After that, he would hand me the right club but add that we were “leavin’ the big black baby in the bag for good measure.”

On the first green I had had to stop him attending the flag because his feet were leaving indentations in the grass which seemed to me to be about one inch deep. I was worried that the other players might start complaining. “Let one of the other caddies do it,” I said.

On the 4th hole I hit a 4 iron to within three feet of the flag. “That’s the kind of shot ah likes walkin’ after,” Sam commented. But Max Evans and I were beaten in the first round by Joe Turnesa and his partner.

Walking back to the club we passed a drinks tent, and I was conscious of the fact that I was only paying Sam $9 while the white caddies got $11.

I took him into the tent. “What are you going to have Sam?”

He wanted a scotch on the rocks so I ordered a double which they served in a big glass, filled to the brim with crushed ice. I watched fascinated as Sam opened his mouth and poured the whole lot down in one go, crushed ice and all.

After saying goodbye to Sam I walked into the clubhouse and gritted my teeth for the usual battle with US waitresses over a cup of tea. They would bring a pot with only one bag in it.

Max with the Duke of Windsor

Every time I would have to persuade them to bring two or three more bags. They would look at me as if I was from Mars. They can make coffee all right but they have no idea how to make tea.

The only occasion that I got a good cup at a US tournament was when I met the Duke of Windsor, the former King Edward VIII who abdicated the British throne to marry Mrs. Simpson.

He carried a tea caddy round with him and gave precise instructions to the waitress how the tea was to be made. Needless to say the cup was wonderful. He must have had the tea specially imported. My only other memory of that occasion was giving him a golf lesson in one of the changing rooms.

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